It is time for another round of Fratello editors’ favorites in a specific segment. This time, we are looking at the best watches under €2,500, and I get the honor of kicking it off. Now, while €2.5K is a huge amount of money by any measure, it is starting to feel quite limiting within the watch world. Of course, there are many great options, but compiling my list confirmed just how many watches have crept up recently.

Still, I feel we should be very critical at this price point. I believe that €2,500 should buy you a watch that doesn’t feel compromised. Many mainstream brands shove the segment aside as if it is pocket change. Well, it isn’t, so let’s have a look at some of the best watches under €2,500.

My selection criteria

As a little disclaimer up front: I am not maximizing for specs; I am maximizing for enjoyment. I am aware that you can get absolute specs beasts from Formex, Sinn, and Christopher Ward at this price. As you may know, this is not how I look at watches.

A watch has to speak to me from a design perspective. Next, I tend to value a watch’s build and finish over specs. So, these are the best watches in my opinion, not by any exact standards. Your mileage may and likely will vary.

Lastly, I will try to find a broad spectrum of watches — some mainstream, some microbrand, some dressy, some sporty. So, without further ado, let’s dive into my favorite contenders for the best watches under €2,500.

Best Watches Under €2,500 Longines Spirit Automatic 37mm

The best watches under €2,500 — Pick #1: Longines Spirit 37mm

My first pick for the best watches under €2,500 comes from a big name — Longines. I am immediately pushing my budget to the max as the time-only version on a leather strap costs €2,450. The Spirit has its flaws design-wise, mainly on the dial. The “Automatic” looks lost under the logo at 12, and those five stars seem redundant and a little overdramatic.

Thor’s Sweet Spot Pick From Longines

But the magic of this watch is in the execution. The case is finished far better than most of the competition in this segment. The lines are razor-sharp (to the eye, that is, not to the touch), and the surfaces are great. The brushing is deep and tactile, reminiscent of watches costing several times the price.

Beyond the finish, it is a pretty basic watch that ticks a lot of boxes without making too much of a fuss. You get a 37mm × 44.8mm × 11.7mm case in stainless steel. Inside it is an ETA-produced caliber, proprietary to Longines, with a 72-hour power reserve and chronometer accuracy. All in all, this is a great everyday watch that would rarely, if ever, look out of place.

Pick #2: Lorca Model No. 1 GMT

My second entry for the best watches under €2,500 comes from a microbrand — Lorca. I have put Lorca on similar lists before because I truly admire what the young company brings to the table. This is another 37mm (at the bezel) watch with GADA (go anywhere, do anything) potential. The watch is powered by a Soprod C125 R4 movement and comes on a steel bracelet. The water resistance is rated to an impressive 200 meters, while the case measures 11.2mm thick.

Best Watches Under €2,500 Lorca Model No. 1 GMT

Now, those are great specs, but it is the design of the Lorca that speaks to me most. Admittedly, the numerals in the bezel had to grow on me. I did not love the classical serif font at first. But sometimes great designs require a little bit of adaptation of the palate. If I look at this watch now, I love what I see.

The magic is the cleanliness of the design. These are all familiar mid-century design elements, but they come together in a natural, cohesive way. The word that springs to mind is “tasteful.” I cannot imagine anyone with anything short of impeccable style wearing this. The watch comes in silver- and black-dial variants, both priced at €1,654.95 ex. VAT.

Best Watches Under €2,500 Nomos Tangente 38 Date Schlossgrün

Pick #3: Nomos Tangente 38 Date Schlossgrün

My third choice for the best watches under €2,500 comes from Germany. It is one of the 31(!) unique colorways of the Nomos Tangente that debuted at Watches and Wonders 2024. My pick of the bunch would probably be the Schlossgrün. Or…maybe the Stop. No…perhaps the Kanari! You get the point; there are plenty of cool options to choose from. Let me stick with Schlossgrün for now.

When I saw the announcement of these watches, my initial impression was that it was a bit ridiculous. Thirty-one colorways? Come on; just pick three and call it a day. Well, I was wrong. Having seen every single one in real life now, they are fantastic! Color is notoriously hard to get right. Nomos has succeeded in launching a host of unexpected and highly original combinations that are so perfectly harmonious. Of course, they will not all be to your liking, but it is worth looking at them closely. You can see they are masterfully designed by people with a great eye for color. The specific hues and tones are often surprising, sometimes clashing, but always interesting.

You would almost forget these are actually good watches too. You get a 37.5mm × 47.7mm × 6.8mm(!) hand-winding watch in stainless steel. The caliber inside is produced entirely by Nomos and has a power reserve of 42 hours. It is visible through the sapphire window on the back, and it looks significantly nicer than most calibers in this segment. All these models, limited to 175 pieces per color, come on a neat gray nylon strap for €1,925.

The best watches under €2,500 — Pick #4: Seiko SPB453

My final entry for the best watches under €2,500 comes from Seiko. I love dive watches and subtle, functional tool watches. The recently released Seiko SPB453 ticks all of those boxes. This is an upgraded version of the popular SPB143. Granted, few people felt it was due for an update, but Seiko managed nonetheless.

The case has been slimmed down to ensure an optimized fit on the wrist. The dial went from gray to black, which I like, and the date moved to a pleasingly inconspicuous position between 4 and 5 o’clock. All in all, I feel Seiko did a great job with this modest update, bringing it further in line with my preferences. Does it make the SPB143 a lesser watch? Not in the slightest! I know many people prefer the gray dial, and the new version’s 4:30 date is also controversial. It’s good that they sit side by side in Seiko’s catalog nowadays! The SPB453 remains well under the €2,500 limit at €1,400.

Best Watches Under €2,500 Lorca Model No. 1 GMT

Closing thoughts

There you have it — my four picks for the best watches under €2,500. These are four watches I would happily recommend to anybody. As mentioned in the intro, this isn’t the easiest of segments. There are plenty of watches in it that I don’t feel warrant their prices. Some watches carry their boosted 2024 prices with dignity, while others struggle.

At the same time, many watches that spring to mind when thinking of the sub-€2,500 segment simply don’t fit the budget anymore. So many of these watches have broken the €3K barrier or even surpassed €4K.

Still, I am quite happy with my selection here. I feel these are watches worth owning and looking after. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to add your choices!